Proletarian revolution

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A proletarian revolution or proletariat revolution is a social revolution in which the working class attempts to overthrow the bourgeoisie and change the previous political system.[1] Proletarian revolutions are generally advocated by socialists, communists and anarchists.

The concept of a revolutionary proletariat was first put forward by the French revolutionary socialist and radical Auguste Blanqui.[2] Marxists believe proletarian revolutions can and will likely happen in all capitalist countries,[3] related to the concept of world revolution.


The Leninist branch of Marxism argues that a proletarian revolution must be led by a vanguard of "professional revolutionaries", men and women who are fully dedicated to the communist cause and who form the nucleus of the communist revolutionary movement. This vanguard is meant to provide leadership and organization to the working class before and during the revolution, which aims to prevent the government from successfully ending it.[4] Vladimir Lenin believed that it was imperative to arm the working class to secure their leverage over the bourgeoisie. Lenin's words were printed in an article in German on the nature of pacifism and said "In every class society, whether based on slavery, serfdom, or, as at present, on wage-labour, the oppressor class is always armed."[5] It was under such conditions that the first proletarian revolution, the Russian revolution, occurred.[6][5][7]

Other Marxists, such as Luxemburgists, disagree with the Leninist idea of a vanguard and insist that the entire working class—or at least a large part of it—must be deeply involved and equally committed to the socialist or communist cause for a proletarian revolution to be successful. To this end, they seek to build mass working class movements with a very large membership.[citation needed]

Finally, there are socialist anarchists and libertarian socialists. Their view is that the revolution must be a bottom-up social revolution which seeks to transform all aspects of society and the individuals which make up the society (see Asturian Revolution and Revolutionary Catalonia). Alexander Berkman said "there are revolutions and revolutions. Some revolutions change only the governmental form by putting a new set of rulers in place of the old. These are political revolutions, and as such they often meet with little resistance. But a revolution that aims to abolish the entire system of wage slavery must also do away with the power of one class to oppress another. That is, it is not any more a mere change of rulers, of government, not a political revolution, but one that seeks to alter the whole character of society. That would be a social revolution."[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Liulevicius, Vejas (13 July 2020). "Russia: The Unlikely Place for a Proletarian Revolution". The Great Courses Daily. Archived from the original on 19 January 2022. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  2. ^ Blake, William James (1939). An American Looks at Karl Marx. Cordon Company. p. 622.
  3. ^ Blackburn, Robin (May–June 1976). "Marxism: Theory of Proletarian Revolution". New Left Review. I (97).
  4. ^ Lenin, Vladimir (1918). The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky.
  5. ^ a b Dunayevskaya, Raya (5 June 2017). "Lenin on Self-determination of Nations and on Organization After His Philosophic Notebooks". In Gogol, Eugene; Dmitryev, Franklin (eds.). Russia: From Proletarian Revolution to State-Capitalist Counter-Revolution. Brill. pp. 125–141. doi:10.1163/9789004347618_005. ISBN 978-90-04-34761-8. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  6. ^ Deutscher, Isaac (May–June 1967). "The Unfinished Revolution: 1917–67" (PDF). New Left Review. I (43).
  7. ^ Chácon, Justin Akers (2018). "Introduction". Radicals in the Barrio: Magonistas, Socialists, Wobblies, and Communists in the Mexican American Working Class. Chicago, IL.: Haymarket Books. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-60846-776-1.
  8. ^ Berkman, Alexander (1929). "25". Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism .